Monday, January 26, 2009

Feast on Christ

“Repetition is the mother of learning.” That old and accurate adage is illustrated in Mark’s Gospel; particularly in chapters 6-8 where the miraculous feeding of a multitude is followed by a trip on the Sea of Galilee, confrontation with the Pharisees, a conversation that has something to do with bread, a unique healing, and all of it climaxed with a confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ. Some Bible commentators have used the repetition, particularly the stories of the miraculous feedings, to be highly critical of either Mark’s Gospel in general or the disciples in specific. Their argument is largely based on the disciples’ remark from 8:4: “From whence can a man satisfy these [men] with bread here in the wilderness?” Mark must be telling the same stories twice; otherwise the disciples’ comment doesn’t make any sense, or so they say. If the disciples had indeed already witnessed Jesus create a meal for thousands out of virtually nothing, why would they say what they said?

The miracles are distinct. All of the details practically scream that Mark 8:1-9 is most certainly a second miraculous feeding; not a retelling of Mark 6:35-44. The 4,000 had been with Jesus for three days whereas the 5,000 had been with Him only for one day. In the first feeding Christ had the people sit down on the “green grass”, but with this miracle there is no green grass on which to sit because of change in seasons; as many as six to eight months have passed in between miracles. The raw material Christ used were also different. Five loaves and two fish in the first one, against seven loaves and a few small fishes in the second. The first time Jesus offered but one blessing, and the second time he gave thanks before distributing both the loaves and the fishes. In Mark 6 there were 12 baskets full of leftovers; in Mark 8 there were seven, and the baskets were different. Two different words are translated “basket” in Mark 6 and 8; the former being a smaller basket typically used by the Jews, and the latter was a larger, hamper like basket (like the basket used to lower Paul down from the city gate in Damascus – Acts 9:25). The greatest evidence that the two were separate miracles is Jesus’ own testimony from verses 19-20.

My favorite piece of evidence; however, is that Jesus is in Gentile country. The first miracle was done in Galilee for the Jews, and the second miracle was done near Decapolis for the Gentiles. This was another indication that the Kingdom of Christ was open, not just to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is able to bring near those who are afar off. When Peter preached on Pentecost to a mostly Jewish crowd he called them to repent and be baptized. Then he said, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39) Praise God for that!

I want to briefly return to the disciples. What is the point of their question? It’s been proven that the two incidents were distinct, so were these guys just dense? Were they just unbelieving? No, that’s not it at all. Give these guys some credit. They had not forgotten what had happened just a few months ago on the Galilean shore. The emphasis here is not their unbelief but their recognition that they lack the resources to feed this multitude. They're simply saying, “Here we go again, Lord. If these people are going to be satisfied out here in the wilderness only you can do it.” The first time through they were skeptical. “Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?” This time they were asserting that only Jesus could meet the people’s need and meet it abundantly. The word translated “satisfy” is chortaz┼Ź and it means “to feed, to fill, to satisfy with food, to fatten”. These men were coming to learn that Christ was their only resource.

We learn by repetition. Rare is the person who is able to learn something, and retain it, in just one sitting. Repetition is the mother of learning, and the father of action. The first 21 verses of Mark chapter 8 reveals at least three things about Christ and the people around Him.

Christ Revealed as the Bread of Life – Mark 8:1-9

Jesus Christ is literally the manna sent down from heaven on which we may feast and be satisfied. He is the only source that will fulfill or satisfy us. He made that clear to the Jewish crowd on the morning following the miracle He performed for them. He said (John 6:47-51):
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. He was born in Bethlehem, which literally means “house of bread,” and on His last night He instituted the Lord’s Supper by taking bread, braking it, and saying, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)

Praise God that the Bread of Life isn’t just for the Jews! Jesus said, “I have compassion on the multitude.” What a blessed statement to read, and what a wonderful truth on which to meditate. Christ has compassion on Jewish multitudes and Gentile multitudes. Those who come to Him will not be sent away hungry, and the only way that people – Jewish and Gentile alike – may be satisfied is by eating of the Bread of Life.

Even those who are His enemies He loves. They may not care for Him or His atoning work on the cross, but He would then and He will now graciously receive and freely pardon them if they would only repent and believe on Him. This is what it means to “eat of this bread.” The primary focus here is spiritual need; not material need. The material is not adequate to satisfy. After 40 days of fasting Christ was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread in order to satisfy His hunger. How did Jesus respond? “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Still, Christ’s supply will always meet and exceed the demand; not only spiritually but materially. After feeding the 5,000 there were twelve baskets full leftover. After feeding the 4,000 there were seven baskets full leftover, baskets big enough to hide a grown man inside! Jesus provided, and He provides according to the need. He didn’t just dump a pile a food in front of them; He kept breaking and handing out what was needed bit by bit. Just as God provided enough manna for the day, Christ will provide what is necessary. We need to constantly bring our needs to Jesus, and He will always provide us with what we need.

Often times our problem is that we are strictly focused on the material and not the spiritual. When we speak about Christ meeting our needs, we’re normally thinking about the mortgage, the groceries, or clothing and we often confuse needs with wants. God knows what we need. He will provide (Luke 12:22-32). The people in Mark 8 were famished. It seems that no one had eaten, or at least not eaten much, in three days. Christ sent them away filled and satisfied. Kent Hughes writes:
Whatever the Lord has given us, there is still far more for Him to give us. Our souls, so to speak, are elastic. The more we eat, the more they expand. The more they expand, the more we are able to eat. None of us have ever eaten as much as He wants to give us. We are meant to hunger, and to eat and eat and eat.
We are meant to feast on the Bread of Life! His supply is freely offered and bottomless! He is our only resource, but He is the only resource that we will ever need.

The Bread of Life Refused by the Pharisees – Mark 8:10-13

When Jesus sailed back to Jewish territory He was met by a familiar group of people. This group didn’t follow Him into Gentile lands, but as soon as He returned to Galilee we read, “And the Pharisees came forth.” Obviously, this was not the “Welcome home, Jesus” committee. This was the fault-finders delegation, who were always frustrated in their efforts to find fault with Jesus.

Sadly, the Pharisees refused to believe the mountains of evidence which proved that Jesus was indeed the Bread of Life. They argumentatively approached Jesus as they were “seeking of him a sign from heaven.” His entire life had been a sign! From His birth, to His baptism, and to all of His marvelous words and miraculous works; all of it indicated for anyone who had eyes to see and ears to hear that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised and long-awaited Messiah; everything that He had done and everything that He had said was one huge, neon sign that brilliantly declared “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

How could these men, who were trained in the scriptures, not understand the signs? They didn’t because they refused to see themselves as they really were: helpless, desperate men in need of, not only a political Messiah, but the Messiah who would save them from their sin, if they would humble themselves, repent and believe.
This they refused to do, therefore regardless of the signs which they had witnessed they missed the message. Their inquiry was insincere. Mark says they asked Jesus for a “sign from heaven, tempting him.” As a result, we read for the second time in consecutive chapters that Jesus sighed. “He sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”

This sigh is a combination of frustration and anguish. The Lord was angry with these blind shepherds who led the people astray; angry with the hypocrisy of these men who wanted to appear righteous but not be righteous; who claimed to love the word of God but only ignored both the Living Word and the written word. We learn from Matthew’s account that Jesus told these men that no sign would be given to them except the sign of Jonah – the Resurrection. Like the others, they even ignored it and even paid the Romans guards to lie about what had happened that first Resurrection morning.

This was also an anguished sigh from the Lord. JC Ryle wrote that this sigh...
Came from a heart which mourned over the ruin that these wicked men were bringing on their own souls. Enemies as they were, Jesus could not behold them hardening themselves in unbelief without sorrow.
Verse 13 is a sobering sentence. “And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.” Nothing could be more terrible than Jesus turning His back on you and sailing away, but that is what happens to those who continually refuse His revelation.

Jesus and the Twelve got back on their boat and headed for the other side of the Lake. Mark lets us know that the Twelve had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus is still ruminating over His conversation with the Pharisees and Sadducees when He says to His disciples, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and [of] the leaven of Herod.” How do the disciples respond to this warning from their Lord? “They reasoned among themselves, saying, [It is] because we have no bread.”

Feast on the Bread of Life! – Mark 8:14-21

Did I say that the disciples weren’t dense? Well then, they were undeniably obtuse. Here Jesus was warning them about the hypocritical, self-righteousness of the Pharisees and the skeptical, worldliness of the Herodians and they are worried about the pantry. A tiny amount of yeast affects the whole lump of dough into which it is mixed. A “little” hypocrisy, worldliness, and unbelief won’t stay little for long; it will permeate everything.

His warning was a timely one, and that is to be expected from the One whose timing is always perfect. Just when their hearts should have been lifted up with the joy of being with Christ, they were discontented!

Some people just need a little extra help, like the man Kent Hughes writes about in his commentary on this passage who went into a bank to cash his check. The teller asked him to endorse the check in order to receive his funds, but the man wouldn’t do it. Again the teller told the man, “If you don’t endorse the check I cannot release the funds.” The man spun on his heel, walked out of the bank and across the street to another bank where the same conversation took place. This time, however, the teller reached across the counter, took the man by the ears, and banged his head three times on the counter. The man then calmly signed his check and received his cash.

He returned to the first bank and said, “They gave me my money across the street.”

“How did that happen?” The teller asked.

“They explained it to me, of course!”

Jesus did some explaining by banging the dense disciples’ domes with a torrent of questions.
  • "Why reason ye, because ye have no bread?"BANG!
  • "Perceive ye not yet, neither understand?"BANG!
  • "Have ye your heart yet hardened?"BANG!
  • "Having eyes, see ye not, and having ears, hear ye not, and do ye not remember?"BANG! BANG! BANG!
Jesus asked, “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”

The disciples answered, “Twelve.”

Jesus asked, “And the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”

The disciples answered, “Seven.”

“And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”

That piercing series of questions revealed the disciples’ dullness of heart, and it teaches us an important lesson. When we fail to reflect and act upon what God has revealed to us in His word then we will become progressively insensitive and dull towards the things of God. We either use it or lose it.

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life for the entire world – Jews and Gentiles. There is no life apart from Him. Only Jesus can fulfill and satisfy, and His supply is limitless. The more we feast on Christ the more there is on which to feast. Is He your Bread?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reality Check

I enjoyed the inauguration. Inaugurations should be enjoyed; even if the candidate for which you voted is on the sideline rather than the one with an upraised hand swearing an Oath to the American people and the US Constitution. I've repeatedly stated that I have serious reasons for voting against Obama; nevertheless, he is now my President and I enjoyed yesterday's historic oath.

I do have a correction to make from yesterday's post, however. I said that 43 men before Obama had taken the Oath of office, but that is inaccurate. Obama is indeed the 44th President of the United States, but he is the 43rd man to take the Oath. If you're wondering how the answer is Grover Cleveland. He was twice elected President but not to successive terms.

Now that that is out of the way, and that the inaugural day festivities are finished, our new President has a lot of work to do. Some people may have been surprised to wake up this morning and realize that they still have bills to pay, our troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the financial markets have plunged rather than surged.

You wanted this job, Mr. President. Now it's time to get to work!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Thoughts

The meteoric rise of Barack Obama has been nothing less than astounding. To think that five years ago the now President of the United States was an Illinois state senator is the political story of my generation. The fact that a black man has been sworn in as the President of the United States during the lifetimes of people who endured segregation is even more amazing and far more important. It was only 43 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and gave his "I Have a Dream" speech to an overflowing Washington Mall crowd. Today a black American stood on the opposite end of the Mall and repeated the oath that only 43 men in history have uttered. This inauguration, the 56th in our nation's history, is a historical moment unlike any other in our nation's history.

The inauguration of a new President is always a momentous occasion. Throughout history and in contemporary times transfers of power have often been violent, or at the very least, politically, socially, and economically disruptive. We may only thank God that has not been the case here. Since 1789 this nation has enjoyed one peaceful transition of Executive power after another. Since the end of WW II the office of President of the United States has been rightfully recognized as the most powerful position in the world, but there have been no attempts to retain power beyond the legal limit. There have been no attempted maneuverings around the Constitution or manipulations of the Constitution.

There is much about President Obama that I admire. There is much with which we are in complete disagreement. I did not vote for the President because we are too different on issues such as abortion and the definition of marriage. Nevertheless, he is my President; not just the President but my President. As such I will pray for him, and I hope the absolute best for him and his family. I pray that God will change his heart on abortion and marriage, but I also pray that he will have the wisdom and the strength to lead our nation out of its morass and onto higher ground. He is the 44th President of the United States. May God bless him and his family.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Model for Ministry

Throughout Mark’s Gospel is the witness of Jesus’ purposeful engagement with the rejected and the hopeless, and, in some cases, the hopelessly rejected. This was evident from the beginning when He called Galilean fishermen to be His disciples, and then spent the entire first day of ministry – as recorded in Mark’s Gospel – not only teaching in the synagogue but healing diseases and exorcising demonic spirits. He cleansed lepers with a touch. Healed paralytics with a word, and was available to sinners and society’s outcasts; making it clear that grace would not be restricted to only those who thought they were righteous. He made withered limbs whole. He calmed violent storms with a simple sentence. He raised the dead to life. He fed thousands from a sack lunch. He restored a maniac. One who had been beyond society’s ability to reform or rehabilitate, but not beyond the power of Jesus to redeem and transform.

I hope up have you noticed the common characteristics of those who came to Jesus. They were all helpless and/or hopeless, despised and/or desperate. They had expended all other options. Jesus was their last and only hope. The same is true today.

Most of Jesus' ministry occurred in Jewish territory. All of the events just mentioned happened during a period of time when Jesus was ministering in Galilee among the Jewish people. Understandably, the popularity of Christ and the resistance toward Him became substantial. Jesus and the Twelve were in need of a retreat, but the demands of ministry would not relent, nor would the opposition from the Pharisees. In order to find a little breathing space, Christ led His followers into the Gentile region of Tyre and Sidon.

While in Gentile territory Christ healed the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman, a woman who had a desperate need and great faith. Her “mega” faith provideed a remarkable juxtaposition with the shallowness, resistance, rejection, and the spiritual pride that was so pervasive in Galilee. This Gentile woman was genuinely hungry for Christ and humble before the Lord; unlike many of His own people.

Departing from Sidon, Jesus traveled to Decapolis, which was another predominantly Gentile territory, and the place to which He had already sent the redeemed maniac. That is where we pick up the text, beginning in Mark 7:31:
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published [it]; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
I find this to be a particularly beautiful section of Mark's Gospel because here Jesus is reaching beyond the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the covenant people, and He is reaching to Gentiles. Mark 7:24 - 8:13 all transpire in Gentile regions. Many commentators believe this was for as long as eight months, or one-fifth of His total ministry. This most certainly is a prophetic picture of God’s grace extended beyond the borders of Israel to all the nations of the world. This is truly a reason for the nations to be glad! The coming of Christ to Israel was never and end unto itself but only the means to the end of reaching the world.

Verses 31-37 are unique to Mark’s account. Matthew mentions Jesus ministering in this area (Matthew 15:29-31), but only Mark provides the detailed description of Christ healing the deaf and mute man. Typical of this book, Mark combines unique details with an economy of words (vv. 33-34) in describing the unusual process that Jesus employed to heal this man, and found within this remarkable interaction is a model for ministry that Christ’s churches should follow.

Empathy – v. 33

This man was in bondage to a severe physical handicap. Unable to hear; he could hardly talk, and it is highly probable that he could not read. It would have been difficult for him to ask questions, and providing explanations would not be any easier. I am unable to adequately imagine this man’s situation, but it most have seemed miserable and hopeless to him. Even today those who are deaf and mute are often stigmatized as being stupid and backward. They are forced to endure rudeness, impatience, and social awkwardness on a level that hearing and speaking people could never truly understand.

Yet, someone, or rather, a group of people, loved this man, because Mark tells us that as Jesus entered Decapolis “they” brought to Him a man who was deaf, and “they” begged Jesus to lay His hand on him.

That is exactly what Jesus did. “And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue.” Never did Christ shrink back from touching sinful humanity! Beginning with His incarnation, when the King of Heaven condescended to the form of a servant by being born in the likeness of men. Thus, being found in human form, He further humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the Cross. From then, throughout His ministry, and still today the Lord Jesus Christ is willing to touch sinful man. Of course, the one Christ touches never stays the same.

Jesus could have healed this deaf man with a word. On several occasions Christ did just that, but Jesus touched this man whose physical disabilities had isolated him from most of society. Christ touched him because reaching out is the instinct of a loving heart, and because a touch communicates empathy. Jesus couldn’t verbally communicate with this man, so He spoke to him in a way the man could understand. He used sign language, and He touched him.

True compassion is more than emotion it is action. The hands-on touch is essential if a church is to be healthy. Churches must financially support it's own work and the work of missionaries, but we cannot touch by proxy. The question for us is have we been reaching out to others? Have we been willing to be uncomfortable to help others? Do we ever run the danger of getting dirty in the process?

Communion – v. 34a

“And looking up to heaven…” This heavenward glance expressed two things. First, it is a visible means of communicating to the deaf man that God was the source of his healing; it was not magic but God’s grace that was responsible for this miracle. Second, it expressed the need for communion with the Father in order for His work to be accomplished.

Between God the Father and God the Son there exists a divine unity and communion. Their unity is the foundation of their perfect communion, and their communion is the manifestation of their indescribable unity. Therefore we read that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” – that is communion; then we read, “and the Word was God” – that is unity. That was in eternity past, before the Word was made flesh, but the same unity and communion existed after the incarnation for we hear Jesus assert, “I and my Father are one” – that is unity, and we also hear Him utter, “he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” – that’s communion.

We are not able to have the level of unity and communion that exists between the Father and the Son. Indeed, our unity is with the Son through whom we have communion with the Father, and herein is the lesson. Jesus was in constant communion with the Father. There were times of private prayer, but He was always in prayer. Even in the midst of intense, seemingly unending, and a very “hands-on” ministry Jesus was found “looking up to heaven.”

In his commentary on this passage the Scotsman Alexander Maclaren wrote:
The heavenward look draws new strength from the source of all our might. In our work, dear brethren…what we do depends largely on what we are, and what we are depends on what we receive, and what we receive depends on the depth and constancy of our communion with God…It is habitual communion with Christ that alone will give the persistency that makes systematic, continuous efforts for Him possible, and yet will keep systematic work from degenerating, as it ever tends to do, into mechanical work.
In other words, be careful that you're not so busy that the heavenly look becomes little more than a nervous nod.

The most troubling malady affecting Christians and churches today is not worldliness it is prayerlessness. Of course, worldliness is a natural byproduct of prayerlessness. Do not imagine that your service to God is more important that your communion with Him, and understand that interrupted communion leads to unfruitful service.

Compassion – v. 34b

“And looking up to heaven, he sighed…” What is the meaning of Jesus’ sigh? Was He just tired from the ministry? Did this particular miracle wear Him down? It’s true that in His humanity the Lord certainly experienced weariness as any man does, but fatigue is not the cause of this sigh. Jesus had performed many miracles in the past without sighing, including raising some from the dead. No, this was not a sigh of exhaustion. This was the sigh of God incarnate for His needy creation. This is an expression of the deep sorrow and anger the Lord felt at the ravages of sin on the lives of men. This sigh of Jesus was a breath of compassion for men who are not only physically afflicted but who are spiritually dead.

The emotions of Christ are regularly displayed in Mark’s Gospel, and, as one would expect, Jesus was always in control of His emotions not controlled by them. Mark records Christ’s grief at the hardness of men’s hearts, His marveling over unbelief and belief alike, His being moved with compassion for an outcast leper and a hungry multitude, His sighing deeply in His spirit when confronted with prejudiced hostility by faithless men who constantly asked for signs from heaven while ignoring those very signs. We witness His heaviness of heart in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion as the weight of the coming cross begins to crash down on Him. Put together we have the portrait of the God-Man who cared and felt deeply for others.

On every church pew on every Sunday there sits a heartache. It may not be known by any or all in attendance, but it is there and it is real. Behind every heartache is the menace of sin, which is either the direct or indirect cause for all Creation’s suffering. Those of us who desire to minister as did Christ must share in His compassion for a hurting humanity. To quote Maclaren once again:
Tell me the depth of a Christian man’s compassion, and I will tell you the measure of his fruitfulness.
The prophet Jeremiah was so burdened over the sins of his people, and he so deeply cared for them that he said, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1) He longed for the relief brought by a flood of tears.
When churches sigh like Christ, in genuine compassion, power comes to the hurting.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:4“Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:7“Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

Those who mourn over their sins and the sins of the world, those who have a merciful, compassionate spirit are approved by God. Are we compassionate people? Have we ever wept over the physically hurting and the spiritually dead? Have we wept over broken relationships? Do we weep because of the other person’s pain or only because of our own? If we are lacking here, we need to pray for help.

The Word – v. 34c

Christ said “Be opened”, “Ephphatha” in Aramaic. His command was delivered to deaf ears, but He knew that it would be heard. The Word of God is powerful. The Word of God, and His Word alone, is able to break through deaf ears, whether they be physically deaf or spiritually deaf, and cause them to hear. This is the key to victory. We often sing that Faith is the Victory that overcomes the world and this is true. Faith in what? Not faith in faith. Not faith in rituals. Faith in Christ, and specifically faith in Christ as He has revealed Himself in His word.

This is what is necessary for our churches to reach our world: an empathetic touch upon the hurting, an upward look of prayer, a heartfelt sigh of compassion, and a bold pronouncement of the Gospel. The healing will come to our homes, churches, neighborhoods, and our world.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ten Years Later

This Phil Johnson blogpost caused me to flashback a decade to when I first heard the acronym Y2K. I had recently joined the pastoral staff of the Dearborn Baptist Church in Aurora, IN, and on the way home from a Sunday morning service my wife asked me what I thought about Y2K. I looked at her and said, "Why to what?" I was completely clueless concerning Y2K. My wife had been talking with some other young wives who were contemplating preparations for the technological meltdown that was sure to occur. I was aggravated, not so much at the silliness of the impending cataclysm, but at my total ignorance of the discussion. I quickly learned that in our church there were a few families who were sold on the certainty of civilization's devastation. From one man in particular I was given some "resources" which would, he said, inform me about Y2K and help me to prepare.

Informed indeed! The cover page of one particular pamphlet pictured a man loaded down with weapons, and that was the general gist of most of the material. Needless to say, my wife and I need not fill one old 2L bottle with water. We didn't stockpile even one can of soup. I refused to discuss Y2K for fear of offending my friends who gave more credence to Y2K, as well as those church members who were sold (and vocal) on the idea.

I learned two things form that early ministry episode. First and foremost was from my pastor. He was not a Y2K "believer", and he preached a message early in 1999 entitled "Y2K DBC and You" which called people to, regardless of the social, technological, or financial climate, trust God and continue to faithfully serve Him.

The second lesson I learned was to rationally engage people, especially when there is a differnce of opinion, instead of fearfully disengaging. One can withdraw from confrontation, not only out of fear of rejection but out of fear of explosion. I learned, and am learning, that I must dialougue with others from a humble and Biblical perspective.

Hard to believe that's been ten years ago, but it has. Now if we can all just apply the lessons learned from Y2K to global warming...